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Mary Queen of Scots, The Mother of Golf

Mary Queen of Scots, a true athlete and a great story for women in sports. Mary was raised in a powerful royal atmosphere, the Scottish Royalty, with close ties to the Royals in France through her mother and England through her ancestors. Mary’s father the King of Scots died when she was only six days old, making her the Queen of Scots at a very young age. Her mother ruled Scotland while Mary was sent to France at the age of five to live the next thirteen years and be educated in the French Court.

Mary began to play golf in France and was married by the age of 15 to the Successor of the French throne Francis II. He was the King for only 17 months until he passed away at the age of 16, the same year in which Mary’s mother died in 1560. Upon the death of Francis II the French Court was politically dominated by his mother Catherine de Medici.

Mary returned back home to claim her rightful inheritance to rule Scotland. She brought back with her the term ”Caddie” or so they say. Playing golf in France it was a tradition that the French military cadets carry the clubs for royalty. The word Cadet which means younger brother or younger son travelled with Mary and was pronounced ”Caddie” by the Queen with her English accent.

Ruling Scotland was complicated for Mary as she was away in France, not aware of the conflicts happening in her homeland between the Protestants and Catholics.

Continuing to play golf and escaping the tensions of the state Mary spent much of her time outdoors exercising, hunting, hawking or playing a French lawn bowling game called Pall Mall. According to legend, the Queen lost a golf match to Mary Seton at Musselburgh and gave her a necklace as a prize.

In 1565 Mary married Henry, Lord Darnley who was killed after two years of the marriage.

The story that marks the beginning of the end for Mary Queen of Scots was this, Mary was seen playing golf just a few days after her husband’s death instead of taking her time to grieve. This behaviour prompted the rumour that Mary had planned the death of Lord Darnley. Mary married a third time to James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell. this created conflict with other Scottish nobles. Mary was asked to abdicate her throne and hand over to her son James the VI of Scotland, later known as James I of England.

Mary fled to England but was imprisoned and charged with murder of her second husband.

The charge read ”A few days after the murder she passed to Seton, exercising her one day right openly at the fields with Pall Mall and golf, ” A sure sign of her hard-heartedness and guilt !

She spent the rest of her life in prison with her health slowly declining until she was executed in 1587 at the age of 44.

Many tragic events happened in Mary’s life. She didn’t see her father and lived her early life away from her mother. Her mother and her first husband died in the same year with a marriage only lasting two years, she failed to rule her own home country due to the religious conflicts which led to the murder of her second husband which she in turn was accused of,  she was trapped and executed after a long time of prison.

But with all these tragedies in her life, The Mother of Golf remains a symbol for passion and love for the game, a great athlete and a legendary woman in sport’s history.

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